As Globes Eye NBC returns, SAG and Spirit Awards look for a new home

It wasn’t long ago that live broadcasts like major league sporting events and star-studded awards shows were seen as the saviors of networks struggling to stay relevant in the streaming age.

And while streamers have taken their nuggets lately — and esports are actually keeping the lights on, the age of blockbuster awards shows seems to be over. Which would mean it might be an awkward time for the ceremonies out there looking for a new home or, in the case of the Golden Globes, looking for a return time.

Late last month, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. agreed to let Eldridge Industries, led by Todd Boehly, buy the Golden Globes and turn that part of the HFPA into a for-profit corporation. Eldridge also controls Dick Clark Prods. taken over, the company that produces The Globes, meaning Boehly has a vested interest in bringing the show back to NBC.

NBC took a breather from Globes in 2022 after fresh allegations of questionable financial practices within the small, insular organization — as well as its poor record of diversity and representation — had turned the already controversial HFPA into something of a pariah. The org has spent more than a year in reform mode, to the point that NBC seems poised to bring the show back in 2023.

NBC and the HFPA are still in talks to make it official, but insiders say much of the difficult negotiations are over and it’s now down to remaining minor issues. It’s unclear if NBC will pay the whopping $60 million license fee, which was renegotiated in 2018, when the networks were particularly desperate to hold on to live events. But the real question mark revolves around the stars’ willingness to show up for the event. No A-list commitment means no interest from NBC.

At least The Globes has a theoretical broadcast house to go back to. The Screen Actors Guild Awards will be homeless in 2023 as longtime partner TNT (and its sister network TBS) continue to downsize in the wake of Warner Bros. Discovery’s merger. When the T-Nets sold assets, the SAG Awards parted ways with the cable company after 25 years.

SAG-AFTRA hired business attorney Ken Ziffren to find a new home for the show, which is now being sold to outlets. But so far, insiders say the asking price is steep, as is the cost of producing the show. With budgets tightening while the economy falters and appetites for awards shows becoming even less evident, it’s unlikely that any of the major networks will have cash to spare to bid very high.

“There’s no gain,” says one network executive. “The SAG Awards at their best will not shake anyone.”

Also on the market: The Film Independent Spirit Award, which has been broadcast on IFC for years. Of course, IFC hasn’t been the independent film channel for nearly a decade, making the ceremony a bit out of place on a network now focused on quirky comedy and sitcom reruns. With the IFC out of the picture now, it’s unclear where — or if — the Indie Spirits might end up, but they could face the same limitations as the SAG Awards.

Most awards shows have seen their ratings plummet in recent years, dampening excitement around these television shows. The 2022 SAG Awards averaged 1.8 million viewers, up from the pre-taped virtual TV show the year before but still below pre-COVID levels. That didn’t seem to be the case at this year’s Spirit Awards, which were moved from their usual day before the Oscars to three weeks in advance to attract more viewers.

In 2021, Amazon made headlines by securing the rights to the Academy of Country Music Awards after CBS decided not to renew its contract with the show. Meanwhile, the Daytime Emmys recently returned to television on CBS after a decade without a major broadcast partner. (Another former TV franchise, the Miss America pageant landed on Peacock for its final edition.)

These aren’t the only awards shows facing stiff headwinds. Earlier this month, the Television Critics Assn. announced the winners of the TCA Awards for the third consecutive year via press release rather than in ceremony due to the pandemic. The Television Critics Association. had planned to return this year for an in-person summer press tour that would have included an in-person TCA Awards hosted by Abbott Elementary stars Sheryl Lee Ralph, Janelle James and Lisa Ann Walter. But when networks canceled the tour over ongoing COVID-19 concerns, the TCA press tour was forced to go virtual again – and scrap a TCA Awards event. The TCA hopes to finally return in person in January, with a goal of bringing the awards back for good in 2023.

Meanwhile, the high-profile controversy surrounding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has also brought other, even smaller, awards-based organizations under scrutiny. That includes the Critics Choice Association — which was also the subject of an LA Times profile, which said, “The nonprofit has been dogged by some of the same issues, including questions about its credibility, governance, and potential conflicts of interest.” Recently, it has the Hollywood Critics Assn. also deals with internal disputes.

Formerly the Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society, the HCA is made up primarily of bloggers and local writers and has sought to break into the saturated film and television awards market. The group attracted a bevy of A-list talent to their two-day HCA TV Awards event at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday August 13th and Sunday August 14th, splitting their live streaming ceremony into two nights, where the broadcast and award were given to cable on one and streaming on the other.

A few days after this month’s HCA awards, a fiery exchange erupted on the organization’s private Facebook page. One member, a California-based writer, questioned the allocation of entrance fees and membership dues, as well as how many members actually voted on the awards — concerns that other current and former members had also privately raised. The author, who is no longer a member, posted several allegations on Twitter (arguing that the HCA “wasn’t getting their shit right”), prompting a cease and desist letter from the organization’s attorney.

According to HCA, approximately 80 members (out of 146) voted at the HCA TV Awards and “Emails have been sent to the majority of members as shown in the email forwarded previously. The only people who didn’t receive ballots are the members who opted out before the ballots were mailed.” As for whether HCA leadership influenced the winners, says organizing director Scott Menzel diversity that he “has brought in a third party to oversee the voting this year. The person hired sent out all the ballots and was responsible for counting all the results. The leadership has no control over who votes and what they vote for.” The HCA also sent its members an FAQ, noting that “the entrance fees will be used to cover and augment the expenses of the HCA TV Awards ceremonies , including venue costs, show production, red carpet production, photographers, videographers, editors and graphic designers, security, awards, statues, food, alcohol, programming, public relations, etc.”

(Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.)

https://variety.com/2022/tv/news/golden-globes-nbc-screen-actors-guild-awards-independent-spirit-1235349994/ As Globes Eye NBC returns, SAG and Spirit Awards look for a new home

Charles Jones

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